Sunni, Shiite groups in Iraq’s crisis explained

Sunni, Shiite groups in Iraq’s crisis explained


JUNE 15, 2014 1:42PM

A LIGHTNING offensive by the Sunni group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, has sparked the biggest crisis Iraq has faced since it plunged into sectarian violence following the US-led invasion of the country in 2003. Here’s a look at the group at the centre of the crisis.

What is ISIS?

ISIS is the successor organisation to al-Qa’ida in Iraq, started by Abu Musab Al Zarqawi a few years before the 2003 US-led invasion of the country. AQI pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qa’ida in 2004, and its Sunni fighters devoted themselves to attacking American forces and terrorising the Shiite-led government in Baghdad that took over after Saddam Hussein’s ouster.

What is the group’s goal?

ISIS and its Iraqi leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, primarily aims to establish a radical Sunni Islamist state in the Levant region of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus and southern Turkey.

How did the situation swell out of control?

The latest violence began in late December when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered security forces to disperse an anti-Maliki protest camp in Ramadi that he claimed was an incubator for al-Qa’ida. Thousands of well-armed Islamist militants rose up in early January in the surrounding province of Anbar and seized Ramadi, the provincial capital, and Fallujah, a restive city less than an hour from Baghdad. ISIS’s massive, sophisticated weapons arsenal suggested that the group had been importing weapons from Syria, said one Iraqi Army general.

What is Iraq doing to stop ISIS’s advancement?

Iran has deployed some of its Revolutionary Guard forces to fight the militants and has helped Iraqi troops win back control of most of Tikrit. They are also helping guard Baghdad and the cities of Najaf and Karbala.

Shiite leaders have issued a call to arms to fight back.

Separately, Iraq is requesting the accelerated delivery of pledged US military support, particularly Apache helicopters, F-16 fighters and surveillance equipment, to help push back the insurgent fighters.

Iran has also deployed units to guard the capital and other Shiite holy cities.

Has the price of oil been affected?

Oil prices hit their highest levels since September. The militants’ continued advance fuelled fears that Iraq’s ample oil production could be threatened.


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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